The attack on marriage is really an attack on the human person, and his dignity, for the devil seeks to pervert our true purpose, to pervert God's holy design. For many of us, we cannot march in protests or write dozens of letters or call numerous times to urge legislators to vote for the Truth. But one thing we can all do is pray and fast. We have designated one day each week to fast for these intentions:

1. That marriage may be preserved, promoted, and understood as God's plan for creation.

2. For all marriages that they may reflect the love of the Trinity.

3. For broken marriages that Christ bring healing and conversion to the spouses' souls.

4. For those who are married, for the sanctification of their marriage and their spouse. For those who are single, for their future spouse and vocation.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 26th Fast

"By the very fact, therefore, that the faithful with sincere mind give such consent, they open up for themselves a treasure of sacramental grace from which they draw supernatural power for the fulfilling of their rights and duties faithfully, holily, perseveringly even unto death. Hence this sacrament not only increases sanctifying grace, the permanent principle of the supernatural life, in those who, as the expression is, place no obstacle (obex) in its way, but also adds particular gifts, dispositions, seeds of grace, by elevating and perfecting the natural powers. By these gifts the parties are assisted not only in understanding, but in knowing intimately, in adhering to firmly, in willing effectively, and in successfully putting into practice, those things which pertain to the marriage state, its aims and duties, giving them in fine right to the actual assistance of grace, whensoever they need it for fulfilling the duties of their state." 
(Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, On Christian Marriage, no. 40, 1930)
Marriage is a beautiful vocation marked by many joys, but also by many trials and sorrows as well.  But couples are not left alone to lift the crosses God allows them to endure. Earthly parents may start their married children out in life with material help so the transition to independence is gradual and less difficult.  Yet, those resources are not endless, and eventually the couple must completely fend for themselves.  In contrast, Our Heavenly Father gives a married couple "a treasure of sacramental grace from which they draw supernatural power for the fulfilling of their rights and duties faithfully, holily, perseveringly even unto death."  His help is inexhaustible because His Power is endless.

But we cannot tap into this rich, and bountiful source of grace if we place obstacles in its way.  Sin is the impediment to the life of grace: pride, anger, sloth, lust, gluttony, envy, greed, the children of these stop us from receiving the graces necessary for our state in life. We must strive for perseverance, for by practicing this virtue we may cultivate the other virtues and sow the "seeds of grace".  It is fitting that the fruit of the 5th Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary is perseverance because the True Love that Christ modeled for us on the Cross is one of utter self-negation, complete self-sacrifice.  To constantly deny not only our wants but our needs takes great endurance, and great love.

But God has given couples a help to persevere in their vocation with the sacramental grace given to them on the day they freely consented to be given to one another in the marital bond.  Unfortunately too many forget to ask for it in times of need.  Perhaps we ask for a situation to change but do we ask for the grace to endure it, and a joyful heart throughout it?  By failing to attempt to practice the necessary virtues to become holy, to become a saint, are we really failing to trust in God?  Perhaps we are not trusting that His grace will be sufficient.

When Our Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in 1830, giving her the image to be imprinted upon, what would become known as, the Miraculous medal she said this:
"This ball which you see is the world, France in particular, and each person individually. I am praying for it and for everyone in the world. The rays which fall on this ball are the graces which I give to those who ask for them. But there are no rays from some of the stones. For many people fail to receive graces because they neglect to ask for them."

Let us not fail to ask for these graces, to implore our dear Mother for her aid in the struggles of life.  And then, let us trust and know that His grace will be sufficient.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 19th Fast

“The sin of detraction is the impediment to the very source of piety and grace; it is abominable in the sight of God, because the detractor feeds on the blood of the souls which he has murdered with the sword of his tongue. . . the malice of the detractor is far greater than that of the thief, because the law of Christ, which is fulfilled by showing mercy, commands us to desire more ardently the salvation of the soul than the safety of the body. . . The tongue is the instrument of life and death to man, not on account of the food it takes, but on account of the words it utters. . . Be modest, showing kindness to all, never judging or condemning anybody. And, as our Lord says, let us not pay attention to the small sins of others, but rather ponder our own in the bitterness of our hearts.  
(St. Francis of Assisi)
How easy it is to talk about the faults of others, rather than "ponder our own in the bitterness of our hearts"?  Gossip slips so easily into our conversations, as the poison of pride prompts us to compare our lives with others'.  We ask after people and situations, not out of charity but out of a sinful curiosity; we secretly hope that they have failed in a situation where we have succeeded.  We choose to judge others and allow the devil to convince us we are being objective; but in reality, what does it matter if we are objective? The Lord, Himself, must be the only one in the position of judging.

It would be harmful enough if this sin existed only in the community; yet, a vice does not affect the community without first affecting the primary community, the domestic church, the family.  We sow the seeds of distrust and disharmony when we gossip about our spouses, and our children.  Perhaps we think we are above this, that surely we may fall into when it comes to others, but not those closest to us.  But upon further examination we most likely cannot exonerate ourselves of this heinous sin.  Even the Pope, himself, acknowledges the terrible traps the devil sets for us in this regard:
"When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others--these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me--these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community. . . If, with the grace of the Spirit, we were able to stop gossiping, it would be a huge step forward, [and] it would do everyone good." (Pope Francis)
Struggling with the daily strife, we allow resentment and anger to build up in our souls.  We no longer have the hearts of servants, and we pridefully compare our sacrifices with the apparent lack thereof of others.  If we judge our spouse, our children, it becomes natural to then judge our neighbor.  We must fight the inclination to gossip and judge lest, as Pope Francis recently said, we treat others as a commodity, as Judas treated our Lord when he sold Him for silver.  We must embrace the virtues of patience and humility if we hope to have the "Spirit come to us and bring about peace and meekness" in our families, and our communities.